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Expert says escalation in Donbass linked to beginning of new Ukraine talks

DPR officials said the people’s militia has complied with the ceasefire sinceTuesday morning

KIEV, January 31. /TASS/. Visits by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko to the West and the simultaneous deterioration of the situation in the Donbass region are not a mere coincidence, Ruslan Bortnik, Director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, said on Tuesday.

"The exacerbation of the situation is linked to the beginning of another stage of talks on Ukraine’s fate," he told Ukraine’s Vesti. "As soon as the turning point comes, when a breakthrough at the talks is expected, there is escalation. Consequently, the president’s visits coincide with this intensification. I believe Avdeevka is the response to the talks between (US President Donald) Trump and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin."

According to Bortnik, such actions are a kind of test on the part of Ukraine’s "war party." "So far this test has had zero results, nothing has changed," he noted. "The use of the entire array of weapons shows that no one is abandoning one’s positions. The negotiations continue, but so far with no solutions in sight."

According to the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Ukrainian armed forces attacked the republic near the cities of Avdeevka and Yasinovataya in the evening on January 29. However, the attack was thwarted, and they had to return to their original positions. The DPR operational command has noted increased destruction, there are casualties among the civilian population. Three civilians have been killed and six others wounded in shelling over the past two days alone.

DPR officials said the people’s militia has complied with the ceasefire sinceTuesday morning. However, the Ukrainian armed forces continue to shell the DPR territory. Meanwhile, Kiev’s representatives accuse the people’s militia of shelling its positions and territory in the Donbass region.